The Australian Protective Service
(APS) was an Australian Commonwealth (Federal) agency which existed between 1984 and 2004. The APS was created by the separation of the Protective Service component of the Australian Federal Police
(AFP) into a new agency based upon recommendations contained in the Stewart Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking. It was initially responsible for protecting personnel and property of the Australian
government, foreign diplomatic missions and Internationally Protected Persons (IPPs) and the provision of custodial services at immigration detention centres. From 1991 the APS commenced providing aviation security functions at certain security-designated airports and, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, deployed Air Security Officers (ASOs - often referred to as 'Air Marshals') on board Australian registered commercial aircraft. Close Personal Protection (CPP), or bodyguard, functions were never provided by the APS; where this has been a Commonwealth responsibility, the function is provided by the AFP.
The staff and functions of the APS were reintegrated into the AFP in 2004 as part of Australian Government efforts to better coordinate the response to terrorism .
The Australian Protective Service (APS) was established in 1984 when 420 Constables transferred over from the Australian Federal Police.
The Australian Protective Service was the Commonwealth Government's specialist custodial, protective security and Counter Terrorist law enforcement agency. Plain clothed operations were normally restricted to members of the NSW Region Escort Response Group (ERG) and the more recently introduced Air Security Officers (Sky Marshals).
The APS was responsible for the protection of property in which the Commonwealth, a foreign country or an international organisation has an interest in, persons holding office under the Commonwealth, their families and internationally protected persons. The APS also operated some functions in the contestable private sector area. With the sale of Australian airport facilities the APS contracted for the provision of Counter Terrorism First Response (CTFR) role to the airport operators.
Unlike other law enforcement agencies, the APS had limited internal honors and awards, the most coveted being the Australian Protective Service Directors Award handed out by the head of the Agency the APS Director.
Post the September 11 terror attacks the Commonwealth Government conducted a review and as a result decided to combine both the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the APS in order to ensure the closest possible co-ordination between two of Australia's key counter terrorist agencies and on 1 July 2004 the Australian Protective Service merged into the AFP, becoming an Operating Division. It was then renamed the Australian Federal Police Protective Service and is now known as the Australian Federal Police Uniformed Protection.
At the time of its full integration to the AFP on 1 July 2004, the Protective Service had 1327 employees.
The Australian Protective Service Amendment Bill 2002 was introduced into the Parliament with the intention of making the Australian Protective Service (APS) become an operating division of the Australian Federal Police
(AFP) on 1 July 2002
. The legislation passed and full integration took effect from July 1
. The service is now known as the Australian Federal Police. Protective Service is a function which now falls under Aviation Security and Protection in the AFP.
AFP Uniformed Protection officers are referred to as "Protective Service Officers" (PSOs) Their primary functions are Counter Terrorist First Response (CTFR) at Australia's major airports and uniformed protection at selected sensitive sites across Australia including Parliament House, Diplomatic Protection and Defence sites to name a few.PSO's whilst not sworn police do have specialised powers under the Australian Federal Police Act 1979 (powers of arrest for Commonwealth Offences relating to their working area.)
The AFP's Air Security Officer Programme (ASO Programme) is a plain clothes division within the Protective Service function of the AFP. At its inception in 2001, to gain the most experienced personnel, the programme's members were drawn from the ranks of the Australian Defence Force and State and Territory Police as well as the then Australian Protective Service and State Corrections Departments. Recruitment for the ASO Programme was done separately to general Protective Service recruitment and police recruitment. External recruitment has now ceased and the only way to become as ASO is by joining the AFP as either a sworn Police Officer or sworn Protective Service Officer.
Roles and functions
Some of the key roles undertaken by the APS included:
- High level security at the residences of the Governor-General and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia
- Protection of Parliament House, and the Office of the Prime Minister
- Protection of foreign embassies and consulate offices within Australia (such as the United States Diplomatic mission to Australia)
- Protection of sensitive defence establishments, including Defence Headquarters at Russell Offices in Canberra; the joint Australian/US communications facility at Pine Gap in the Northern Territory; the former atomic testing site at Maralinga in South Australia; the Australian Defence Signals facility at Geraldton and the naval communications station at Exmouth, both in Western Australia
- Protection of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) at Lucas Heights and other sensitive nuclear storage facilities.
- Counter-Terrorist First Response (CTFR) functions at eleven designated airports; Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Gold Coast, Hobart, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney
- Perform security and escort protection for Commonwealth VIP's.
- Deployment of Air Security Officers (ASOs) aboard Australian-registered commercial passeneger aircraft.
- Augmentation of security at other facilities or for designated operations, including during protest activity at immigration detention centres and as part of the security arrangements for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Queensland in 2001.
In 2007, the APEC Summit hosted in various Australian states and cities including Sydney will have AFPPS involvement regarding enforcement and protection as world leaders including John Howard, George W Bush and other government and economic leaders will be in attendance.
The ASO program
In response to the September 11
incidents, the Commonwealth instituted an Air Security Officer Program under the APS. These employees are generally referred to in the media as Sky Marshals
The ASO Programme provides a discreet anti-hijacking
capability for Australian civil aviation by providing armed security personnel on board aircraft. This involves both random and intelligence-led placement of armed ASOs on flights operated by Australian registered air carriers, including domestic and international flights into and out of Australia.
The program draws from a pool of applicants that includes Defence Force personnel and employees of State Police Forces and the AFP but must be sworn as PSO's for the AFP.
A reflection of the AFP's international obligations is its peacekeeping
role. The AFP's peacekeeping efforts are principally focused on the Pacific
where the organisation assists in the law-enforcing efforts of many sovereign nations. As such, AFP Protective Service officers are routinely deployed overseas to assist with peacekeeping operations due to the tactical training they have received.
AFPPS officers are at present deployed along with other Australian law enforcement officers in the Solomon Islands and now East Timor as part of RAMSI. The peacekeeping force suffered their first casualty on December 22, 2004 when Officer Adam Dunning was shot and killed while deployed on official duties in the Solomon Islands. Dunning's partner was also seriously wounded in the attack. Two former members of a local militia were charged but acquitted of Dunning's murder. Officer Dunning was buried with full Police Honours.
The main street of a new AFP training village in Canberra was named Adam Dunning Drive in his memory. The $2.8 million training facility at Mount Majura just outside Canberra, has been designed to replicate situations in regional countries to which personnel might be assigned.